Commissioners Hearing Sirens Song: Privatize The Jails



There is one word for the Broward County Commission in its dance over the budget with Sheriff Al Lamberti


They criticize Lamberti for giving his employees a pay raise.

Yet the commission gave their employees a 3 percent raise and promised them another 3 percent next year?

They demand Lamberti cut his budget. 

Yet, the cost of running commissioners’ own office in the proposed 2010 budget goes to $3.4 from $3.3 million.

That’s the wrong direction, folks!

I believe there is an end game for these commissioners privatization of the jails.

Commissioners appear to do very littleunless there is something in it for their lobbyist friends.  

Boy, is there something in it for lobbyists in privatization!

The county’s jail budget is $233 million. So it wouldn’t be hard to cut out a million or two for lobbying fees once a private company took over. 

The county commission currently has a contract with the sheriff to run the jails.  They could easily give that contract to a private company.

It would be a slap at Lamberti.  The nine commissioners are Democrats and are openly hostile to Lamberti.  Many last year backed Lamberti’s opponent, Scott Israel.

Most of all, privatization would be a bonus for their lobbyist friends. 

At least two lobbyists have registered for companies that do jail/corrections privatization:

Grant Smith is representing Judicial Corrections Services, a firm that specializes in privatizing probation.

Smith is the son of former U. S. Rep. Larry Smith, who remains a Democratic icon in some circles of Broward.  The younger Smith works at the influential law firm run by Scott Rothstein, who helped elected Lamberti.

What better way do commissioners have to tap into Rothstein’s millions in campaign contributions than to throw his firm a bone?

Corrections Corporation of America is represented by Sam Poole III, who works at Berger Singerman.  Mitchell  Berger is a long-time major Democratic fund raiser. 

Connecting the dots yet?

Could privatization save taxpayers money?

Initially, maybe. 

The history of privatization is that companies come in with an initial low bid. Then the cost to taxpayers slowly creeps up over the years.

I’m not saying privatization is about to happen. 

But the ground work is being laid.  Lobbyists have begin talking up privatization and everything at the Broward Governmental Center starts with lobbyists.


22 Responses to “Commissioners Hearing Sirens Song: Privatize The Jails”

  1. No Every One says:

    I believe John Rodstrom has been a voice for the commission cutting the budget so don’t lump him in with the witches up there who talk out of all sides of their mouths.

  2. Suffer the Children says:

    Government was good to the unions when the going was good. Then, when Lamberti needed them most, he promised them a big raise with money he knew he would have. Now he’s Sheriff and has to pay the piper. The County is squeezing his bloated agency for budget relief and his union friends are pressing him to keep his promises.


    Contract out the detention services. Let those good employees go, they didn’t really support him anyway. Who gets to cash in afterward? His Republican friends, who else. Nice turn of events for an organization he said should be free of politics.

  3. alert says:

    although I agree 100% about the hypocrites on the commission and there is a political war between Democratic county commission who endorsed Israel,and the Republican Sheriff AL Lamberti,but do you think it was wise of Lamberti to give Wiley Thompson a 119,000$ A year job a week before he had to go in front of the county commission?Wiley Thompson to my blogger was a Democratic candidate for Sheriff ,who was defeated by Israel and then endorsed The Republican candidate Lamberti,I understand political payback,but the timing was horrendous,and then he gives him a job in personal no less,with all the hiring the sheriff is going to do in the future.

  4. Why Privatize? says:

    Yes the Commission should consider taking back operation of the jails from the Sheriff. He couldn’t use the bloated jail budget to subsidize low-bid deals on policing cities, leading to more honesty in his budget. But why privatize? Why not have the County take over the jail operations and the current employees all become Broward County employees (instead of BSO employees)? Same could apply to pre-trial release programs.

    While we’re at it, why not see if Hollywood and Fort Lauderdale want to bid against BSO for having their police departments take over security at the port and airport.

    All of this could lead to cost savings to taxpayers through fair competition and without any privatization.

  5. Wannadude says:

    Isn’t this the same scam that Sam Fields and Dale Ross tried to force through many years ago?

    FROM BUDDY: Sam Fields attempted to transform himself into a lobbyist in the early 1990s. He had a client who wanted to privatize the jails. The scheme went nowhere. Consequently, Fields lobbying career went nowhere, too.

  6. U have a Better Choice says:

    Mr. Thompson happens to be a good Choice for the Job. $ Whats the difference in what he makes long as he does a Good job.Somebody has to be in charge of HR. Who should he of hired KJ.

  7. OMGosh!!! says:

    Thank You Buddy for bringing this to our attention!
    This is truly insane and you’re absolutely right.
    Lobbyists play a HUGE PART in the Politics in this County and the Commissioners don’t get it, they do what they are being “bugged” to do and that is to go with their clients.
    This is disgusting! Of course, they got raises and gave their assistants raises and that’s just NOT RIGHT. We NEED PROTECTION IN THIS COUNTY and “LAMBERTI” is doing a Great job.
    Lamberti is a Great Sheriff and the County Commissioners need to get OFF THEIR HIGH HORSE’S and act human, is that Possible?
    (don’t think so, they’re so dumb)
    Please get vote new people into office for the County Commission, these guys have no brains whatsoever…..

  8. Robin Rorapaugh says:

    Privatization of jails and prisons has proven to be a horrible policy choice for the states and local governments that have chosen said way. A primary responsibility of government is the running of prisons (jails). To even think about privatizing the Broward County Jail system is an Alice in Wonderland response to budget woes. I am confident that the commission and the sheriff will be able to come to terms without falling through the looking glass.

  9. let me guess says:

    rothstiens clients who are in the private jail business and funded the eco against israel this couldn’t benefit them right Buddy? naw not in broward

  10. ALERT says:


  11. Just Wondering says:

    What does a new boat for $178K plus, office furniture, etc have to do with our safety?

    I suggest some of you read the Sheriff’s budget. Employees are being laid off for these type of item.

  12. Brian Craig says:

    Maybe Grant Smith can use his father Ex-Con and Ex-Congessman Larry Smith as an advisor on jail conditions.

  13. Sam Fields says:

    Sorry Buddy,

    It is inaccurate to to say my lobbying career went “nowhere”. In point of fact it went into the toilet.

  14. Resident says:

    What I don’t understand, BSO at over 5700 employees is the largest county sheriff agency in the country. But Broward County is not the largest county, even in Florida. Also there is less than 10% unincorporated area, so why do they need so many people.

    Assuming, and it is an assumption, that BSO charges those cities the actual charge for those services, I can’t figure how come it costs BSO so much to do its job.

    Why do other counties covering larger areas, with larger populations, do a lot more with so many fewer people?

    BSO must be awfully wasteful.

  15. Resident says:

    I just read that Palm Beach County Sheriff, with a much larger territory to cover and a lot of unincorporated area, has less than 1800 deputies. Granted it has about 30% less in population, but that doesn’t account for the more than twice the size of BSO.

    I wonder how Dade measures up with less officers a larger territory and higher population.

  16. Floridan says:

    Privatization of the Broward County jails is a chimera — it is not going to happen.

  17. Concerned Citizen says:

    Texas spent tens of millions of taxpayer dollars studying and then implementing private companies at their jails. A couple years later, how many private jails in Texas?? ZERO – it does not work!

    You need highly trained, professional staff, not some Wackenhut outfit, to handle dangerous, smart criminals that are just waiting to ESCAPE, or to file civil or criminal lawsuits AGAINST THE COUNTY the second correctional staff screw up.


  18. alert says:

    maybe thats why israel.lamack and scarryberry went into the private security business?

  19. Broward Resident says:

    Don’t forget that the County Commission, led by Diana Wasserman-Rubin, fell all over themselves to give away the County’s Fire Department to then Sheriff Ken Jenne (at the time he was the golden boy of the local Democratic party). Jenne set up all those low-bid municipal policing contracts, subsidized by the County taxpayers. Jenne convinced Cooper City to abolish their fire department and merge it into BSO. Now everyone is whining about the Sheriff’s budget – The County Commission created this MONSTER organization in which 52% of the County budget is controlled by ONE ELECTED OFFICIAL. Now that there’s a republican in office (and not a convicted felon Democrat), their tune has changed. Remember who did this when election time comes around. Wasserman-Rubin spearheaded this disaster, go to the verbatim minutes for the County Commission meetings. Jim Scott was the only vote against creating this bloated agency…

  20. junior says:

    BROWARD AND DADE COUNTY WOULD SAVE MILLIONS BY PRIVATIZING THE JAILS. and these are the changes they would have to make to accomplish their gaols # fire all the officers and rehire them at lower salaries no more pension give then a 401k let them buy their own uniform give them a uniform allowance no more promotion to sgt and above without a degree higher people with a degree and train them to run correction as a business at that level. we cannot have people with high school diploma running the jails in the jails today dade county and broward jail lieutenants and sgt are high school graduate with salaries of 100.000 to 150.000 officers making $100.000 in overtime poor uneducated supervisiors. we have to put people to run the jails as a business

  21. junior says:

    dade county and broward jail have the most over paid employees.they tell u that the jail work are so dangerous. well the person who have the most dangerous jobs in the jails is the nurses, social workers correction tries to make the public believe that their jobs is so dangerous. well its not. and if the public does not know, correction officers are not the only people working with direct contact with the inmates and the people who have the most contact physically with inmates is the nurses. officers are over paid for the work they do uneducated for the position the have in maintaining the function of how well the jail could be run.u find more officers sitting around doing nothing too much officers doing things thats not necessary.why officers are being paid for their lunch is beyond me when u have hire extra staff to accomodate that and officers sleeping all over the jails and they say its dangerous PRIVATIZE THE JAILS NOW U COULD TRAIN YOUNG MEN AND WOMAN FOR $15.00 HOURLY 401K UNIFORM ALLOWANCE AND U WONT HAVE A PROBLEM GETTING PEOPLE TO WORK SGT AND ABOVE RANKS MUST HAVE A BSC DEGREE OR HIGHER PEOPLE WID DEGREE FOR CERTAIN ADMINISTRATIVE POSITON ACCOUNTANT BUSINESS DEGREE

  22. junior says:

    the jail could be run for less wid no risk for inmates escaping.people take a look at the officers they r over weight over paid uneducated any one looking for a job could do it. people u cannot carry a gun in the jails. think about it one officer on a unit with 50 0r more inmates in an open environment inmates walking around free then u say for the amount of time that is happening that in cludes female officer on male units and then u ask what the incidents occurence of inmate attacking female officer or male officer i would say one in a million very rare and when it happens it because something was not handled right and in most cases by the officer. the comissioner need to make random checks in the jails officers spend more time on the phone or looking at movies on the computer, it just shows how relax it is to work in the jail. the inmates respect the officers and do not blame the officers for ther predicament. its only wen the officers become abusive and disrespetful does ting get out of hand but controllable. thre is too much ranks in the jails too much cpl sgt lt and captain y soo much. to much vehicles for the ranking officers why a car for the captain correctiong buys too much vehiclesno officer should be working at a desk higher civilians for those position let officers watch the inmates desk work for the civilians let us not make every shift a number 70 people per shift we must be able to make adjustment without highing over time but because the people in those position r so uneducated they cant because they realize if they do and something go wrng they wud lose their job.thats the problem in the jails uneducated people running the jails. privatize the jails now now its costing too much